GPS in a Nutshell
If You Haven't Incorporated GPS Into Your Trail Riding Yet, It's a Great Time To StartJennifer Rails (October 2017)
is not new and handheld GPS units have been available for many years, but if you
haven't incorporated GPS into your trail riding yet, it's a great time to
start. Mounting a GPS unit on your dirt bike or ATV is a piece of
cake, and with it you can go deeper into the woods and farther out into the
desert without worrying much about finding your way back, even in the dark.
Just strapping a typical GPS unit to your bike gives
you an instant speedometer and odometer, lap timer, and clock. More
importantly, it allows you to track where you are heading, where you have
been, find a specific point or trailhead, or save the location of your favorite
spots. The possibilities are endless, and the units are very affordable, so it is strange that some trail riders
still don't use them. One reason might be that until you
use a GPS unit on a trail ride, you may not realize how
useful they can be. Or perhaps many people aren't getting way out
there and pushing the boundaries of the riding areas they
frequent. Another reason could be that until RiderPlanet USA came
along, nobody had really marked and collected many GPS points of any interest to
off-road riders. (Off-the-shelf applications tend to be geared
towards standard city driving and tourism.) So here's your
opportunity to do more, see more, and get more out of your next trip.
There are 24 satellites that orbit the earth in a very
precise path, which are managed by the Department of Defense. A GPS receives the
low power radio signals that are transmitted from these satellites and uses a
format called triangulation to calculate its location, hence you always know
exactly where you are. A GPS needs three satellite signals to
calculate latitude, longitude and altitude and with fourth signal most GPS units
can calculate additional information such as speed and heading.
Once you've got a GPS, and you've mounted it to your dirt bike or ATV, you
may wonder what features are useful to you as a trail rider. The most
useful feature found on most units is the “Go To” mode. This normally
invokes a screen with an arrow to point in the direction of the target, along
with the distance to the specified point. This feature is quite
useful if you use it to mark your staging area before your
ride. During your entire ride you'll know exactly how far it is back
to camp and what direction to proceed. Just having the arrow
constantly pointing gives you a great frame of reference and makes it harder to
get disoriented in the first place. But if you do, whether your are a
half mile out or 60 miles out, you can just follow the arrow all the way back to
camp. Most units have a backlit display and that feature makes night
riding a blast. We all have ended a long ride, cruising along in the
dark, unsure of where the heck we are. A backlit GPS makes that part
of the ride a blast.
Some GPS units have a group feature that allows you
to keep track of others in your party. This is a great way keep from
getting separated, especially if you are riding with the whole family.
Even if you're not too technical and just want something for safety, a
GPS unit or Spot locator can be a life saver - literally.
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